Memories Underfoot – KS

Stumbling stones are a deeply personal way of remembering the victims of World War II. Across Europe, over 75,000 stumbling stones have been laid; as a result, the Stumbling Stones project is the largest decentralized memorial in the world. These miniature memorials serve as reminders of those lost during that dark period in history; yet, the Antisemitism still rampant in the Netherlands is proof that they are not a strong enough reminder.

Many of these Stones have been laid, and they are always laid in front of the homes or workplaces of the people they commemorate. From a practical perspective, this type of memorial is both deeply personal and easy to reproduce, allowing them to be laid virtually anywhere and easily integrate into the surrounding architecture. They are also, however, easy to miss. Most Stumbling Stones in Amsterdam are placed in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods, meaning citizens who don’t live in those regions of the city see far fewer of them. The fact that they are laid underfoot and melded within the sidewalk also means that it is easy to walk past them without noticing.

Kuper derided the lack of monuments to lost Jews in Rotterdam, mentioning specifically the “Hangar 24 Square,” which to most onlookers appears to be a simple wall. He expresses a sentiment that the loss of Jewish lives has been, purposefully or otherwise, ignored in the Dutch narrative, using the lack of memorials for this loss as an example. Following World War II, Germany as a nation accepted and processed the evils that they had committed. The Netherlands, conversely, seems to have failed to process their role in that period, erasing the experience of Dutch Jews from their national memory. As a result, Antisemitism has become so common that, for a time, it was actually fashionable. A simple memorial, even on as massive a scale as the Stumbling Stones, is not enough to undo this phenomenon.

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One thought on “Memories Underfoot – KS

  1. kylesutera,

    You raised a very good point on the contrasting societal approach between the Netherlands and Germany in accepting their history. Germany has confronted its dark past while the Netherlands had previously failed to do so. The Netherlands is only just starting to recognize their responsibility in WWII and the Holocaust.

    I enjoyed reading your post.

    -Zach

    Like

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